Copac monitors severely assaulted


The constitution-making outreach programme, which got off to a shambolic start last week turned nasty on Sunday amid reports that three monitors in Mashonaland West were severely assaulted by suspected Zanu PF youths.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said the monitors were attacked at Scarffel Farm, Glynamel Farm and Baguta Primary School where they were deployed.
ZESN, ZPP and ZLHR Independent Constitution Monitoring Project (ZZZICOMP) identified the monitors as Paul Nechishanu, Artwel Katandika and Shingirayi Garira.
However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo scoffed at the reports saying Zimbabwe’s detractors were burning the midnight oil to ensure the country is portrayed in bad light and that the integrity of the new supreme law is queried.
Said Gumbo: “We know there are people opposed to Zimbabwe and Zanu PF working hard to destabilise the constitution-making programme and the peace in the country by creating false reports.
“This is the work of our detractors. As far as we are concerned, we do not attach much credit to such reports.”
Although chief police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena declined to comment, the coalition on human rights insisted marauding Zanu PF youths used logs to assault the monitors.
“Garira sustained injuries on his eardrum while Nechishanu and Katandika suffered head injuries,” the ZZZICOMP said.
“The three monitors lost their mobile phones and some money.”
ZZZICOMP said only two mobile handsets were recovered on Monday after they were surrendered to the monitors’ colleagues by some Zanu PF supporters opposed to violence.
The organisation said this comes against the backdrop of the arrest of two other monitors in Manicaland in unclear circumstances.
ZZZICOMP alleged the two monitors Tapera Mavherevhedze, Godfrey Nyarota and their driver Cornelius Chengu were arrested last week on Thursday while monitoring the constitution-making-process in Mukuni, Mutare North.
They were charged for contravening Section 81 (3) of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa); practicing journalism without accreditation but freed the following day after paying fines of $20 each.
They will appear in court on July 9, ZZZICOMP said.
“We appeal to Copac to ensure the safety of monitors in line with the call for tolerance of divergent views as well as zero tolerance to violence by the principals in the inclusive government at the launch of the outreach process,” ZZZICOMP said.
Meanwhile, in Bulawayo more reports of intimidation this time by politicians pushing certain agendas in the constitution-making process in Datata in Gwanda are filtering to NewsDay.
Villagers that attended a constitution consultative meeting last Friday said a senior Zanu PF politican (name supplied), warned of the dire consequences of advocating for dual citizenship because it was an alien concept in Africa.
He reportedly told villagers not to forget how Zimbabwe was liberated and that their views should have a bearing on the war for independence.
“His conduct was downright intimidating to villagers. When the issue of dual citizenship was put to the villagers,” he said. “Liqinisile ukutho lifina umuntu abe ngoweZimbabwe aphinde abengowe South Africa? (Are you serious that one can be a Zimbabwean and South African at the same time?) ”
There was no police presence during the meeting save for members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation known for their heavy handedness when dealing with dissenting voices.
According to a member of the outreach team at the meeting, Reggie Moyo, an MDC parliamentarian intervened and reassured participants they could freely air their views without fear of reprisals or victimisation.